Welcome to the Nishma Insight Discussion Forum blog.


The NISHMA INSIGHT is our popular dvar Torah, distributed almost every week by e-mail, that touches upon an important concept in the Parsha, theme in a holiday or event in contemporary society.

Often, readers respond, via e-mail, with comments that initiate a further dialogue. Through this Discussion Forum, we now wish to open this dialogue to others. If you have a comment on the INSIGHT, we invite you place to your comments here; then we invite everyone to join the discussion.

(If you are not receiving the NISHMA INSIGHT, we invite you join our mailing/e-mail list through completing our sign-up form available at our website.)

Friday, December 14, 2018

INSIGHT 5779 - #12: Negotiations

For Vayigash
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, December 7, 2018

Insight 5779-11: THE TRUE BATTLE OF CHANUKAH

For Chanukah
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, November 30, 2018

Insight 5779-10: THE HUMAN ELEMENT

For Vayeshev
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, November 23, 2018

Insight 5779-09: THE WORLD OF THE AVOT

For Vayishlach
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website



Friday, November 9, 2018

INSIGHT 5779 - #08: DISTINCTION

For Toldot
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website




As I mentioned in the Insight that the tension between Yaakov and Esav may reflect upon the very conflict of good versus evil, this was not intended in imply that the dialectic between unconditional love and merit also reflects this conflict. The reality of the dialectic is that it illustrates the complexity of the ethical choice for the reality is that most issues revolve around two values of import demanding proper balanced application as necessary. Unconditional love and merit both have their place; the challenge is to make the proper decision in this regard. Evil occurs when such a decision is not reached; even more so, when such a decision is not attempted with any diligence. Evil is the result of a desired simplicity and this is what Esav was attempting in not responding in any way to the depth of the dialectic. Yitzchak, Rivka and Yaakov, however, understood the depth of the dilemma and so each one searched for a possible solution that would best meet the need of the full dialectic, if possible. That is, in fact, the nature of the good to which we all are to strive.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Insight 5779-07: TRANSFERING THE MANTLE OF LEADERSHIP

For Chayei Sarah
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website




 It should be mentioned that the first time we encounter Yitzchak Avinu subsequent to the Akeida is when he sees his wife-to-be, Rivkah  returning with Eliezer. (Bereishit 24:62-67) It is interesting to note that there is no mention of Eliezer reporting on the news of his mission to Avraham. It is stated that he simply reported to Yitzchak. It was at this point that this whole matter became solely Yitzchak's concern and, as Rivka took the place of Sarah, clearly also had communal significance.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Insight 5779-06: SDOM: A TEACHING MOMENT

For Vayeira
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, October 12, 2018

INSIGHT 5779 - #05: THE CHALLENGE OF THE RAINBOW

For Noach
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, October 5, 2018

INSIGHT 5779 - #04: CREATION AND EVOLUTION

For Bereishit
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, September 28, 2018

INSIGHT 5779 - #03: Kohelet

For Succot
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Insight 5779-02: Succat Dovid

For Succot
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website



 
1) Further on the words of Maharal, in regard to the Jewish monarchy, it it important to recognize that the prime function of the king was to protect the workings of the society, namely, for example, to fight the necessary wars and/or maintain, law and order. It is, as such, important for the Jewish king, in regard to these secular functions, to also reflect strength and permanence, It is within this Divine task for the Jewish monarchy that we do, indeed, refer to the Davidic dynasty as the House of David. It is, though, further important for us to recognize that this is still indeed part of its Divine task -- it is the Divine that demands this involvement in the secular. 

At the same time, though, we must also recognize that the Jewish monarchy's role is also intended to extend into the religious realm. It was still the project of the monarchy -- in specific terms, the dream of Dovid HaMelech finally brought to fruition by, his son, Shlomo HaMelech -- to build the Beit HaMikdash. It is in this recognition of the Jewish monarchy's purpose beyond the secular that we refer to the Davidic dynasty as Succat Dovid.


2) Further on the words of Malbim, it is interesting to note that his perception that the coming of the Mashiach will occur in an incremental manner would be in line with -- although not necessarily in specifics -- the modern perspective of Messianic Zionism as presented by such individuals as the Raya Kuk. Rav Kuk's argument that the return of the Jewish People to Israel, even as spearheaded by the non-religious, was the beginning of the Redemption, also reflected an idea that the coming of the Mashiach would be in an incremental fashion although, obviously, not similar to Malbim's perspective of this incremental process.  

Friday, September 14, 2018

INSIGHT 5779 - #01: A REAL RELATIONSHIP

For Vayelech, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, August 31, 2018

Insight 5778-43: This World

For Ki Tavo
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website


The presentation in the Insight is not intended to explain how we are able to perceive the Divine cause-and-effect in response to our actions. This is still a challenge beyond our understanding. What the brachot and klallot do inform us, though, is that we are to absolutely perceive this Divine cause-and-effect within our lives and to see God in all that occurs to us, specifically in response to our behaviour. In this manner, we clearly see life differently. We may not know the specifics of why what occurs to us does occur to us but recognizing this involvement of the Divine in our lives is of great significance. We are always to see the involvement of God in our lives and learn from this to the extent that we can.

Friday, August 24, 2018

INSIGHT 5778 - #42 - MORES

For Ki Teitzei
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website



 I hope that no one thinks that I am in any way presenting, with the words of this Insight, an argument for an allowance for promiscuity . Clearly, for many halachic reasons, the view of Torah is that sexual expression should only occur within marriage. My point, though, is that it must be recognized that the underlying Torah morality that we are to, in fact, learn from the Torah restrictions in this regard can reflect different value constructs than those that foster any similar viewpoints in the general world. 

This is also so with many other ethical/moral stands within life; for example, the Torah view of tzniut is vastly different that calls within the world for sexual modesty. While in many ways the resultant behaviour may often be similar, the underlying moral construct advocating for this behaviour may actually be vastly different. What we can thus also find are situations where advocates of behaviour clearly contrary to that demanded by Torah actually present certain Torah values in their arguments as they challenge values presented against their viewpoint which actually are contrary to Torah. That is the case here in that the Christian sexual ethic is vastly different than the Torah ethic in this regard in many ways.

An important example of this would be the niddah laws which clearly indicate that Torah sexual morality is not just tied to marriage. In fact, these laws indicate that proper sexuality is not a black-and-white condition when it is always either permitted or not. In a value system based solely on marriage, sexuality between a couple is either always permitted or always not, depending on whether the couple is married or not. Pursuant to the niddah laws -- which, it can be argued, is a more fundamental construct within the Torah sexual ethical system than marriage -- it is clear, though, that proper sexual expression must be a development of the couple's expression within a more fluid environment. This, obviously, reflect a different understanding of sexuality including a significance to sexual expression when guided by these principles and expressed in its proper time.

Rabbi Ben Hecht .

Friday, August 17, 2018

INSIGHT 5778 - #41: EVALUATING ONE’S OWN THOUGHTS

For Shoftim
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, August 10, 2018

INSIGHT 5778 - #40: THE NATURE OF THE ETHICAL

For Re'eh
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, August 3, 2018

Insight 5778-39: THE MOTIVATION OF TORAH

For Eikev
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, July 27, 2018

INSIGHT 5778 - #38: STRIVING FOR WISDOM

For V'etchanan
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, July 20, 2018

INSIGHT 5778 - #37: CRITICISM AND CONFLICT

For Devarim and Tisha B'Av
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, July 13, 2018

INSIGHT 5778 - #36: JUSTICE MUST ALSO BE SEEN TO BE DONE

For Mattot
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, July 6, 2018

INSIGHT 5778 - #35: MOAB AND MIDIAN

For Pinchus
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, June 29, 2018

Insight 5778-34: BLESSINGS AND CURSES

For Balak
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, June 22, 2018

INSIGHT 5778 - #33: THE PARADOX OF TORAH

For Chukat
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, May 25, 2018

INSIGHT 5778 - #32: THE DIALECTIC OF RELIGION

For Naso
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, May 18, 2018

Insight 5778-31: The Triumph of Caring

For Shavuot
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, May 11, 2018

INSIGHT 5778 - #30: FREEDOM AND STRUCTURE

For Behar
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, May 4, 2018

Insight 5778-29: SANCTIFYING GOD AND SANCTIFYING SELF

For Emor
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, April 27, 2018

Insight 5778-28: Systems of Justice

For Kedoshim
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, April 20, 2018

Insight 5778-27, The Paradox of the Omer

For Emor, Omer
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, April 13, 2018

INSIGHT 5778 - #26: THE TENSION OF PSAK

For Shemini
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Insight 5778-25: THE MIRACLE AT YUM SUF

For Pesach and Beshalach
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website



My final message in the Insight would seem to actually supported by the fact that the opening verses in the Shira refer to God's Might against the Egyptians. This, I find, most significant in that the nation itself experienced their own miraculous salvation, passing through the Sea in a most tranquil way. This is really supported in the midrashic literature in that the land was dry and level and there were fruit trees growing from the water so that the people could enjoy a delicious fruit as they traveled. Yet, describing their own experience was not how they began the Shira for the greater reality of God's Existence is that He fills all aspects of Creation. As He saved the Jewish nation in such tranquility, He dealt with the Egyptians as they deserved, with the wrath of His Might -- and even, as the midrash explains, each Egyptian as individually deserving. That recognition of reality really brought forth shira.

RBH

Friday, March 23, 2018

Insight 5778-24: The Bystander

For Tzav
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, March 9, 2018

Insight 5778-23: THE KEHUNA WITHIN ISRAEL

For Vayahkel - Pekudei
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Insight 5778-22: Purim

For Purim
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website


I just wish to clarify my point. The challenge we face in confronting the human condition demands depth as life is complex. A presentation of 'Stick figures' in attempting to explain the challenge human beings face in confronting the issue of good and evil -- and its internal conflict within each of us -- is, as such, misleading. What I am describing in the case of Haman, though, is the existence of the individual who strives to be but a 'stick figure' as this person wishes to avoid the actual complexity of the human condition. I am not using the 'stick figure' to describe the concept of good versus evil. What I am describing is the possible evil of an individual striving to be but only a 'stick figure. 
RBH

Friday, February 23, 2018

Insight 5778-21: FORMAL AND INFORMAL

For Tetzaveh
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, February 9, 2018

Insight 5778-20: God and Ethics

For Mishpatim
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, February 2, 2018

Insight 5778-19: THE NAME

For Yitro
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website



The idea that tefilla [prayer] should include a bekasha [request] also, in my opinion, reflects the thought expressed in the Insight. Many people find it difficult to accept that a prayer should include a request from God for they see it as approaching God because it is in one's best interest. They, as such, like to see prayer simply in terms of praising God or thanking Him. From a bekasha, though, one really sees God as instrumental in one's life and the fact that one can approach God in this manner obviously reflects close relationship. If someone is close to you, obviously, that person wants to assist you. As such, tefilla should incorporate shevach [praise], bekasha and hoda'ah [thankfulness] for it is in the meshing of these three that we reflect the uniqueness of our relationship with Him.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Insight 5778-18: FURTHER ON A NATIONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

For Beshalach
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, January 19, 2018

Insight 5778-17: A NATIONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

For Bo
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, January 12, 2018

Insight 5778-16: ABOVE THE RULES OF NATURE

For Va'era
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website

Friday, January 5, 2018

Insight 5778-15: THE SERVANT OF GOD

For Shemot
 
Not yet available on the Nishma website


This understanding of the relationship between God and humanity is also significant in the discussion of the relationship between a rebbi [teacher] and talmid [student] or other designation of follower. There are those who wish to maintain that a student must always follow the position of a teacher; the latter's will must always be subservient to the will of the teacher. There are others, though, who maintain that the actual sign of a good rebbi is one who can raise a talmid to have a proper will of his/her own and thus is able to make decisions independent and even in conflict with the teacher. Independence of will is obviously the issue. While the independence of a prophet's will that the Insight argues must be an element of prophecy does not, of course, in any way imply a conflict with the Divine, in human terms such an expression of independence could result in a conflict between rebbi and talmid and so the existence of this particular issue in regard to the relationship of teacher and student. In regard to prophecy and, in fact, all aspects of the Divine-human connection, the existence of the Divine Will and the independent human will can, though, paradoxically co-exist. This is the very essence of Torah. This argument in regard to the rebbi-talmid relationship is simply a reflection that such co-existence must also paradoxically co-exist in this case. It is just more difficult in the human case.